Author(s): Douglas R. Hofstadter
This is Douglas R Hofstadter's long-awaited return to the themes of Godel, Escher, Bach - an original and controversial view of the nature of consciousness and identity. Why do we say "I"? Can thought arise out of matter? By "thought" we mean not mere calculation, the manipulation of algorithms and patterns according to fixed rules, but something deeper: experience, self-awareness, consciousness. I Am a Strange Loop argues that the key to understanding the level on which consciousness operates is the feedback loop. After introducing the reader to simple feedback systems like a flush toilet, the ever-popular thermostat and his own experiments with a video camera pointed at its own monitor, he Hofstadter turns to the idea of "strange loops" - feedback loops, which exist on two levels of meaning, a theory, which Kurt Godel employed in the mathematical statements constructed for his famous Incompleteness Theorem. Like Godel's logical statements, the brain also exists on at least two levels: a deterministic level of atoms and neurons, and a higher level of large mental structures we call symbols. First published April 2007.